The end of third-party cookies announcement made by Google in early 2020 - and later postponed to 2023 - has caused headaches for marketers and a wide discussion about what is to come in a new, cookieless world. Still, it is possible to beat the cookie monster and implement a strategy to not lose our customers' valuable information. Let's look at this one step at a time.
Do you know what cookies are? Cookies are pieces of data in text files captured each time a user enters and browses your website. They assign you and your browser with a unique ID… And how delicious they are were.
To simplify, there are two main types of cookies: primary cookies (first-party cookies), which collect information about you and your preferences within the website and allow, for example, the online shop to remember the products you have added to the cart, so you can resume shopping later. Secondary cookies (third-party cookies) are shared with external platforms in order to be used for advertising purposes.
When we talk about the dreaded end of cookies we are talking, precisely, about these third-party cookies. This means that the marketers are left without their delights, and only a few crumbs remain.
Opt-in and acceptance of cookies
First, with the effectiveness of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), all websites have been required to implement an opt-in system to ask permission from each user on how their data is used, stored and shared - a commendable move towards transparency in e-commerce, and the internet world in general. Thus, users can choose between not accepting the sharing of their data, (and the website can allow them to continue browsing or not); accepting only primary cookies; or accepting all cookies, primary and secondary.
For marketeers, the full acceptance of cookies is our greatest gift: we have kept the full package to ourselves and, it turns out, they are our favourite cookies. With partial acceptance of cookies we can, for example, analyse the user's behaviour from the moment they enter our 'house' until he leaves. With full acceptance, we still look out the window to see how far he goes. This is because if the user, then, does a Google search or browses another website, he may see ads from us, either because Google tracks his browsing and establishes an individual interest profile based on his preferences, or based on the premise that he had previously browsed our products or filled a form in our website. That's the magic of online advertising and remarketing.
The partial acceptance is like the last cookie of the package - it is already soft and mushy, but it still looks good. It even has chocolate chips in it. But, if at first glance, it looked like chocolate, let's not be fooled: they were dried grapes after all. An allegory to prove that the access to information still exists, but is in fact limited and insipid. This means that some may like the cookie, but most crave the decadent chocolate chips. Strategies will have less access to relevant information and there will be a lack of personalisation in the consumer experience. Campaigns will be affected as audiences will become more generic, and remarketing will be hampered because we no longer follow our visitors after they leave our 'house'.
We entered the cookieless world with a few bold measures
Here are some of the measures taken regarding the end of third-party cookies. Concerned with the healthy management of users' information storage, Google presented us with the FLoC (Federated Learning Cohorts) method: an alternative to data collection that traces an average user profile based on topics of interest, without identifying them individually, and placing them in a large group of other similar users. Now, it's no longer "the last cookie in the package" but just "some cookie in the package". And the package is one of those seemingly healthy, but boring, generic, Styrofoam-tasting cookies.
Other measures include setting up a Marketing Data Sync (API) that allows the creation of custom audiences for ad platforms by sharing offline conversions. FLEDGE technology will provide the ability to create remarketing campaigns without third-party cookies, but first informing the user that they would like to show related ads in the future.
In tests until 2023, we will see how these alternatives develop.
So, how do we prepare for the end of cookies?
It's simple: worship the cookies youalready have and keep them hermetically sealed. That is to say: take advantage of the information database you already have and make the most of your customers. Through them, you can plan the acquisition of new clients with similar needs.
- To explore and analyse the customer journey, you'll need a CDP (Customer Data Platform) like Salesforce. Salesforce is the world's #1 CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool and it will help you evaluate behaviour and performance across devices. It allows you to personalise your customer experience and target your message. LOBA is one of the main Salesforce partners in Portugal, so you can always talk to us.
- Don't be afraid of overdoing lookalike campaigns of your target audiences, as they may never be as reliable as they are (for) now.
- Rethink your email marketing strategy and nurture the relationship you have with your customers. If you need help, at LOBA we have a good team of strategists and copywriters who can help you plan promotions, exclusives, VIP lists, loyalty campaigns, content, newsletters and more. It is my team. I'm biased.
- Also consider how to acquire new customers to grow your database. Think about a "give to get" (lead magnets) strategy, all by the simple exchange of a form submission (landing page or pop-up) or login with your email.
- Reveal to your target audiences what your company, brand or product has to offer. Showcase knowledge and authority through e-books, white papers, guides, checklists and infographics.
- Add value to your products or services through video tutorials, tips, cooking recipes, samples, lives, webinars, demos, free trials and Q&As.
- Offer bonus and behind-the-scenes content in your newsletters or in private communication groups, such as Whatsapp, Telegram or Facebook Groups. Make them feel like star customers.
- Inspire and foster curiosity in your target audiences through samples, giveaways, quizzes, games, competitions, promotions and promocodes.
- Change the attribution of your campaigns from 'last click' to 'data-driven' or any other similar applicable attribution. If the success of your campaigns depends solely on that last click, that click may never count. Distribute the conversion credit across your various marketing actions.
- Give valid reasons for the acceptance of cookies by those who visit your website. Be concise and transparent, but personalise your message. Nowadays, marketing should be inquisitive, not intrusive.
Beyond these 7 tips, we can pray, light a candle or rub the genie lamp for artificial intelligence to help us model conversions, since when a user rejects all cookies, several points are lost in his journey. That makes cross-channeling impossible, and leaves us several question marks and blank data. Until then, stay with us and follow our tips religiously. And, as you know, we're always happy to help you.